ʻOkatoba 29: Kuʻikahi me Sepania

October 29, 1863: Treaty with Spain

A treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation was secured between “His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands” and “Her Majesty the Queen of Spain” in London on October 29, 1863. The plenipotentiary listed for the Queen of Spain was Don Juan Tomas Comyn. Sir John Bowring was listed as the Hawaiʻi plenipotentiary. Ratification of this treaty was not completed until 1870 due to a number of unforeseen events, including Queen Isabella’s deposition in 1868.  Moreover, just one month after this treaty was concluded, King Liholiho passed away on November 30, 1863. Charles Harris, the Minister for Foreign Affairs announced on September 2, 1870, “And whereas, the said Treaty has been now duly ratified by His Majesty the King, and His Highness the Regent of Spain, and ratifications exchanged, the said Treaty has become a part of the law of this Kingdom, and all the provisions thereof are to be observed.” Treaty with Spain, Haw. Gazette (Sept. 7, 1870) (available online).

Below are excerpts from the Hawaiian language version of this treaty. Transcripts for these excerpts are also provided.

Available in Foreign Office & Executive – Treaties, Spain.

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ʻOkatoba 29: Kuʻikahi me Farani

October 29, 1857: Treaty with France

On October 29, 1857 a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation was entered between “his Majesty Napoleon III., Emperor of the French, and his Majesty Kamehameha IV, King of the Sandwich Islands.” The selected Plenipotentiary for the Emperor of the French was Louis Emile Perrin. Robert Wyllie was listed as the plenipotentiary for the King of Hawaiʻi.

The complex negotiations involved with this treaty is described by a few historians–for example, Ralph S. Kuykendall’s discussion of this treaty takes up seven full pages in his book, The Hawaiian Kingdom 1854–1874:  Twenty Critical Years 47-54 (1953) . And of course, the tumultuous history between Hawaiʻi and France played a significant role in shaping many of the grievances between the two countries. See, e.g., ʻAukake 22-26: Māhele 1 – Nā Koi He ʻUmi a Admirala de Tromelin; ʻAukake 22-26: Māhele 2 – No ke Kuahaua a Admirala de Tromelin; ʻAukake 22-26: Māhele 3 – Leka a Admirala de Tromelin iā “Monsieur le Consul”; and Iulai 12-17: Kuʻikahi me Farani (“Kuikahi e Hooki i ke Kaua”).

This treaty contained twenty-seven articles and took twenty-two lengthy conferences to resolve.  See also Treaty, The Polynesian at 1 (Sept. 11, 1858) (available online). Below are excerpts from the treaty (with the original seals). Transcripts follow.

Available in Treaties France 1857 (2 of 2).

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ʻOkatoba 19: Kuʻikahi me Denemaka

October 19, 1846: Treaty with Denmark

On June 23, 1845, the Danish warship Galathea, commanded by Captain Steen Andersen Bille, left Copenhagen to embark on a voyage around the world. Jorgen Jensen, A Danish Sailor’s View of Hawaiʻi in 1846, 30 Haw. J. Hist. 105 (1996) (available online). Captain Bille was given a number of tasks to complete on this journey, including, for example, the appointment of Danish consuls in commercially strategically advantageous locations.  With regard to Hawaiʻi, Captain Bille was instructed to negotiate and obtain a “most-favored-nation” agreement.  Captain Bille arrived in Honolulu in October of 1846.

On October 19, 1846, treaty negotiations were successfully concluded and the requisite “most favored nation clause” was included as part of the Danish Treaty. This meant that Danish subjects enjoyed all the rights granted to other foreigners in Hawaiʻi. The treaty was later ratified by the King of Denmark on November 29, 1847.  Ratification of the Treaty, The Polynesian, June 24, 1848, at 1 (available online at Chronicling America). The next day, on October 20, Captain Bille appointed Eduard Albert Lyverkrop, a Honolulu merchant, to serve as a Danish consul in Hawaiʻi.  An excerpt from this appointment letter is provided below.

Available in Chronological File, 1790 – 1849, 402-18, 1846 Oct 1-20.

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ʻOkatoba 16: Kuʻikahi me Netelani

October 16, 1862: Treaty with Netherlands

A treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation was secured between “His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands” and “His Majesty the King of the Netherlands” at the Hague on October 16, 1862. The plenipotentiaries listed for the King of the Netherlands were Paul van der Maesen de Sombreff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Gerardus Henri Betz, Minister of Finance. Sir John Bowring was the Hawaiʻi plenipotentiary. This treaty was ratified by the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in Honolulu on October 3, 1863. See Treaties – Netherlands. Below are excerpts from the Hawaiian language version of this treaty. Transcripts for these excerpts are also provided.

Available in Treaties – Netherlands.

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ʻOkatoba 4: Kuʻikahi me Belgiuma

October 4, 1862: Treaty with Belgium

On October 4, 1862, a treaty between Hawaiʻi and Belgium was concluded in Brussels, with Sir John Bowring representing King Kamehameha IV, and Monsieur Charles Rogier representing King Leopold. Of significance was Article 26 which stated,

If from a concurrence of unfortunate circumstances difference between the contracting parties should cause an interruption of the relations of friendship between them, and that after having exhausted the means of an amicable and conciliatory discussion, the object of their mutual desire should not have been completely obtain, the arbitration of a third power, equally the friend of both, shall, by a common accord, be appealed to, in order to avoid by this means a definitive rupture.

The significance of this provision was explained in an article published in The Polynesian, “The value to this Kingdom of such a treaty provision cannot be overrated. Everyone must know that had treaties with such an equitable provision in them subsisted 38 years ago . . . the harsh transactions of Captain La Place in 1829–those of Lord George Paulet in 1843, and those of Admiral de Tromelin in 1849, would never have had place in Hawaiian history.” (Treaty with Belgium, The Polynesian (Mar. 21, 1863), available in Treaties Belgium 1862). In our past blog postings, we cover some of these aforementioned events involving Admiral de Tromelin (Part 1, Part 2), and Captain La Place.

Below is an excerpt from the Hawaiian translation of the 1862 treaty between the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and Belgium. A transcription follows.

Available in Treaties Belgium 1862.

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ʻAukake 19: Kuʻikahi me Iāpana

August 19, 1871: Treaty with Japan

In Eleanor Nordyke and Y. Scott Matsumoto’s article, “The Japanese in Hawaii: A Historical and Demographic Perspective,” they explain that the growth of the sugar industry resulted in an increased demand for cheap labor (pg. 162-63). However, Western recruitment of Japanese contract laborers was not permitted until 1868, when Eugene Van Reed, “the Hawaiian consul general in Yokohama, solicited the first group of 148 Japanese immigrants (140 men, six women, and two children).” Id. at 163.  This group was known as the Gannen Mono, the “First-Year People.” Id. Shortly thereafter, complaints were received alleging that the workers’ contracts had been violated, and that they had been subject to abuse and poor treatment.

Against this backdrop, a treaty between Hawaiʻi and Japan commenced.  Negotiations took quite some time, but it was finally concluded on August 19, 1871. The introductory paragraph contained in the 1871 Treaty between Japan and Hawaiʻi states as follows: “WHEREAS, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between His Majesty the King, and His Imperial Majesty the Tenno of Japan, was concluded at Yeddo, on the 19th day of August, 1871, which has been ratified by His Majesty the King, and His Imperial Majesty, the Tenno of Japan, and the ratifications duly exchanged . . . .”

Below are a few images related to the correspondence leading up to the conclusion of this treaty, including an envelope and seal addressed to “His Excellency John M. Kapena, His Hawaiian Majesty’s Minister for Foreign Affair[s].”

Available in Treaties Japan 1871-1880.
Available in Treaties Japan 1871-1880.


ʻAukake 19: Kuʻikahi me ʻAmelika Hui Pū ʻia

August 19, 1850: Treaty with the United States

A treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States was concluded and signed by their Plenipotentiaries on December 20, 1849. The treaty was ratified on August 19, 1850, by his majesty Kauikeaouli, the Premier, Keoni Ana, and the Minister of Foreign Relations, R.C. Wyllie. Below is a snippet from the Hawaiian language version of the ratification:

Available in Treaties U.S. 1850.

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ʻAukake 15: Kuʻikahi Pānaʻi Like

August 15, 1875: Reciprocity Treaty

Available in Treaties U.S. 1874-1875.

King Kalākaua along with his plenipotentiaries Elisha H. Allen and Henry A. P. Carter, visited Washington and successfully concluded negotiations to enter into a Convention with the United States on January 30, 1875.  In sum, it established close economic and political relations between the two nations, “allowing certain products, including sugar, to be imported into the United States without a tariff and prohibiting the kingdom from allowing another nation similar privileges or any lease to Hawaiian harbors and ports.” See Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law:  A Treatise at n. 152 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015). 

The convention was set to take effect once duly ratified by both governments, and after it obtained Congressional approval.  See Convention Between the United States and His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, 19 Stat. 625 (1875) (image below).

Convention Between United States and His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, 19 Stat. 625 (1875).

The enabling act for the treaty went into effect, and was signed by President Grant on August 15, 1876 (image below). Thus, it took a full year for the Reciprocity Treaty to go into effect.

An Act to Carry into Effect a Convention Between the United States of America and His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, 19 Stat. 200 (1876).


Iulai 20: Kuʻikahi me Suizilana

July 20, 1864: Treaty with Switzerland

On July 20, 1864, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi entered into a treaty of friendship and commerce with the Swiss Confederation. Below are two pages from the treaty. A transcription for the French column is provided below by Brittanie Nery:

Available in Treaties, Switzerland.

d’amitié, d’établissement
et de commerce
Sa majesté le Roi Hawaiien
la Confédération Suisse.
Sa majesté le Roi Hawaiien
la Confédération Suisse

Available in Treaties, Switzerland.

En foi de quoi
les plénipotentiaires respectifs
ont signé le Traité et y ont
apposé leurs sceaux

Ainsi fais par duplicata
à Berne le vingtième jour
de juillet mille huit cent
soixante quatre.

Le Plénipotentiaire Hawaiien:

Le Plénipotentiaire Suisse: